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Google Earth solves missing persons case - after 22 years

13 September 2019

It took 22 years, but the missing man's remains were finally found thanks to someone who zoomed in on his former Florida neighborhood with Google satellite images and noticed a vehicle submerged in a lake.

After several drinks at a local night club, William Earl Moldt called his girlfriend around 9.30pm to say he would be home soon.

These crashes occur most often during clear days on dry, rural roads, a South Florida Sun-Sentinel analysis shows.

Google Earth solves missing persons case - after 22 years
Google Earth solves missing persons case - after 22 years

The mystery of where 40-year-old Moldt disappeared to on 8 November 1997 had left cops stumped, however, it was reportedly solved after someone spotted a sunken auto in a pond on Google Earth and called in the police to investigate.

Moldt, a 40-year-old mortgage broker, rarely drank, but he had chose to go out that evening in November 1997.

'Amazingly, the vehicle had been plainly visible on a Google Earth satellite image of the area since 2007, but apparently no one had noticed it until 2019, when a property surveyor saw the auto while looking at Google Earth, ' Moldt's cold case listing in the Charley Project says.

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On 28 August this year - 22 years on - police were called to reports of a vehicle found in a pond in Moon Bay Circle, Wellington. According to the Charley Project, which maintains an online list of anyone missing a year or more, someone spotted the vehicle on Google Earth.

The former resident, who was not identified by police, then contacted a current resident that lives adjacent from the submerged object.

Barry Fay couldn't believe what a neighbor was telling him: Google Earth showed a auto rotting at the bottom of a pond behind his home. Police confirmed his findings and said the vehicle was heavily calcified and appeared to have been under water for a very long time.

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Days later, the remains tested positively as having belonged to Moldt.

It's unclear how Moldt's vehicle ended up inside the pond at the Grand Isles development, which was still under construction when he disappeared.

"You can't determine what happened that many years ago, what transpired", police spokeswoman Therese Barbera told the BBC.

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Google Earth solves missing persons case - after 22 years